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Reply to Roger Lippman


In an earlier round with Roger Lippman, he accused me of falsely claiming that the State Department had declared 500,000 missing in Kosovo, a charge with I answered by quoting from a  State Department press release. Here is my earlier reply on the point:

"Lippman says that I erred in citing a State Department claim of 500,000 Kosovo Albanians killed. Lippman is wrong once again: the State Department made the claim in an official press release of April 19, 1999, in which it is stated that ‘Their number ranges from a low of 100,000, looking only at the men missing from among refugee families in Albania, up to nearly 500,000, if reports of widespread separation of men among the IDPs within Kosovo are true.’ http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/rpt_990416_ksvo_ethnic.html
Note the immense fabrication that places the minimum number of Albanian males killed, and only by April 19, at 100,000. This is a genuine lie machine in operation."
 
But in this present round  Lippman makes the same charge, saying that the NYT admitted to an error, and claiming that it is me who keeps "repeating misinformation from the Times." This is criticism that is not only fraudulent but fraud with chutzpah.

A good chunk of  his present attack is pure demagoguery, with claims that it is "appalling" that I  challenge the mainstream narrative at this point of memorial for the 8,000, insulting the survivors.  But if the narrative is  distorted history and is being used by people like Lippman, Paddy Ashdown, Blair,  Clinton, Holbrooke and company for unappetizing political ends, it would be irresponsible to fail to point that out. Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie, who was the first commander of the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, wrote in the Toronto Globe and Mail on "The Real Story Behind Srebrenica" (July 14, 2005), saying that "it was not a black and white picture and that ‘bad guys had not killed ‘good’ guys. The situation is far more complex," that "evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of ‘up to’ 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred," and "if you’re committing genocide you don’t let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate." So I guess Mackenzie is "insulting" the survivors; but in fact, he is objecting to the false picture that Lippman struggles to preserve.

Lippman’s notion that the only problem with the West’s policies in the Balkans was that "it dithered while Milosevic’s regime destroyed Yugoslavia and killed thousands" is comic book history, that any decent study like Susan Woodward’s The Balkan Tragedy,  Lenard Cohen’s  Broken Bonds, Raju Thomas’s Yugoslavia Unraveled, Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade, and even the CATO-sponsored book edited by Ted Galen Carpenter, NATO’s Empty Victory: A Postmortem on the Balkan War, would expose as pure ideological baloney. The fact that Lippman spouts it forth, with all his experience on the subject, demonstrates that he is working an agenda, with no intellectual holds barred (evident also in the repetition on my non-existent error on the claimed 500,000 victims).

The other side of the coin of  Lippman’s one-sidedness is that while he claims I never express "sorrow" over the Bosnian Muslim dead, he can never even admit the existence of  Serbs or Roma as victims of ethnic cleansing and massacre, let alone express any sorrow. I point in my article on the Srebrenica massacre that the outcry over Srebrenica covered over the huge expulsions and  killings of  Croatian Krajina Serbs in the very next month, actively supported by the Clinton administration. I believe that there were more civilians, and certainly more women and children, killed in the Krajina massacre than at Srebrenica; the 17 Srebrenica area graves exhumed through 1999 disclosed one identifiable female body, whereas over 350 women and children were butchered in Krajina. What about the more than a thousand Serb dead in the towns near  Srebrenica, slaughtered by Nasir Oric and his forces in forays out of Srebrenica in the years 1992-94? The Serbs have their own search operations that have uncovered dozens of  mass graves and are still doing this, unmentioned by Lippman and his humanistic associates.

 On April 17, 2005, there was a memorial service held in Donja Gradina in Bosnia in honor of the victims of  the Croat death camp at Jasenovac, where more than half a million Serbs were butchered during World War II. Lippman didn’t attend that ceremony and hasn’t spoken with any of those survivors although this was mass murder on a truly genocidal scale. Isn’t  Lippman’s failure to even mention these dead Serbs and the Krajina victims, while attending so conscientiously to the politically worthy victims, an "insult" to the politically unworthy? But we are dealing here with a  well-heeled propaganda operation with a humanistic cover.

On numbers and counting, Lippman fails to mention that the International Commission on Missing Persons was eventually turned over to the Bosnian Muslims for management. Much of my article was devoted to demonstrating that they regularly manipulated evidence. He mentions the Bosnian Serb "confession," failing of course to note that it was done under coercion and threat, and was only acceptable when it reached conclusions that Paddy Ashdown and Lippman knew to be true in advance. On counting, Lippman regularly evades the problem that dead bodies might be those of the several thousand fighters known to have been killed in the battles around the area, and he takes it for granted that any Bosnian Muslim lists of  dead or missing are honest and relate to the Srebrenica events of July 1995; and he fails to note that unknown numbers on those lists might be people killed in the fighting rather than victims of execution. He fails to explain why if there were vast reburials of many thousands not one was captured on a satellite photo, despite Albright’s warning that "we will be watching."

Lippman and his colleagues, and the Bosnian Muslims, have had extraordinary resources to hunt for bodies, manage the record, and propagandize their NATO-Bosnian Muslim-friendly line. They have even succeeded in keeping very quiet the Bosnian Muslim Al Qaeda connection, which should have been awkward after 9/11 and the disclosure that two of the 19 hijackers and one major planner of the operation had "fought" in Bosnia. If this connection had been linked to the Serbs the outcry would have been furious at this further demonstration of their evil tendencies. But it doesn’t fit well the model of  good versus evil as the NATO establishment and Lippman would have it, so it is subject to a strategic silence. But the case Lippman tries to make once again is a blend of  lies, selective evidence and a propaganda barrage-and in this reply to my article I don’t believe Lippman scores a single hit.

—Edward S. Herman 

 

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